The Trump Administration Might Scrap Putting Harriet Tubman On The $20 Bill

by Kelly Tunney
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Debate has raged over the future of the $20 bill for some time now, but on Thursday, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said Andrew Jackson may stay on the $20 bill. Mnuchin's comments on the bill lend an air of uncertainty to a currency decision that was made more than a year ago.

In April 2016, during former President Barack Obama's last term, then-Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew announced plans to redesign the $20 with Harriet Tubman as the prominent figure, potentially moving Jackson to the back of the bill. Replacing Jackson, a slaveholder, with Tubman, a former slave and abolitionist, was seen as a powerful move. In his announcement, Lew also revealed the intention to change the $5 and $10 bill and replace them with women and civil rights leaders as well.

However, Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that at the moment he's "not focused on" redesigning the $20 bill. Mnuchin said that the biggest reasoning behind changing a bill has to do with preventing counterfeiting, not to change the person on the bill, according to The Washington Post. Mnuchin told CNBC of the potential bill redesigns, "People have been on the bills for a long period of time. And this is something we will consider. Right now, we've got a lot more important issues to focus on," not saying either way what might happen but hinting at the possibility that Jackson may remain on the front.

Noting the overwhelming majority of white men on American paper currency, various campaigns have sprung up to push including women and minorities on bills.

According to The Hill, the redesigned bills under Obama featured different scenes on the backs of the bills as well. Jackson would be joined by a picture of the White House on the $20, leaders of the suffrage movement would be displayed prominently on the back of the $10, and historic civil rights events at the Lincoln Memorial would be placed on the back of the $5.

Initially, Tubman was discussed to replaced Alexander Hamilton on the $10 bill. However, with the success of the Broadway musical that tells his story and has rekindled a national interest in America's first treasury secretary, he was granted his spot.

There is still time for Mnuchin to save Tubman's $20 bill; after all, the new designs weren't set to be revealed until 2020, and would possibly not enter circulation for a decade. Until then, Americans will likely continue to push for female and people of color's representation in everyday life.